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Does food cause inflammation?

Nearly two-thirds of surveyed Americans suffer from GI symptoms that could possibly be resolved with simple changes. Do you have those days where you are feeling great, but then all of a sudden a migraine sets in or you get the unexplainable bloat.  

Gah, the worse! 

Sometimes these symptoms are more explainable than you think and can be linked back to inflammation stemming from food you eat or the foods you are missing out on.  

The basics of inflammation

Inflammation as we know it can be debilitating, it can keep us from reaching our goals mentally or physically and hold us back from conquering the day. A vital issue for those of us wearing multiple hats and juggling full schedules!

Let’s break down what inflammation actually is, how food sensitivities and allergies can cause it, and how symptoms may manifest. 

When a person consumes food they are sensitive or have allergies to, the immune system will have some type of response.  

The immune system detects the antigen and perceives the item consumed as a “foreign invader.” 

This then causes white blood cells, a.k.a antibodies, and other immune components to work hard to be the first responders in defense of the body. 

The chemical mediators are then released through various pathways to destroy the foreign invader.  Boom, checkmate.

Unfortunately, though they are just doing their jobs, these mediators that are released can cause tissue inflammation, residual damage, and other effects that can lead to symptoms.

What does that mean for you? 

Well, this could mean the reason behind your chronic acne, bloat, weight fluctuations, low energy, migraine, etc. could all be caused by something as simple as an item you were unknowingly consuming!

Is food the culprit?

With our busy schedules, it’s easy to pass off symptoms such as a headache, bloat, and lack of energy as “just something you deal with.” But could it be what you are putting in your body?  

You may be wondering, are there some common ones I should know about? Sure, these can include but are not limited to: 

  • Dairy 
  • Gluten 
  • Food additives 
  • Artificial sweeteners & sugar alcohols
  • Caffeine
  • Refined sugars
  • Food colorants

But, should you go eliminating foods because celebrities and fake-news nutritionists on the internet promote it as a healthy trend to reduce inflammation? 

NOPE, it’s important to dive a bit deeper and work with a trained registered dietitian to evaluate you before jumping to conclusions as there may be a greater underlying problem. Wondering when to take the next step? 

Let’s talk about sure signs that inflammation could be holding you back. 


How a migraine actually starts is not completely explained, but there are several dietary mechanisms that may play a role. 

Diet may cause migraines through changes in our nervous system or even as a response to the way our body breaks down sugar or other chemicals.

Extreme Bloating

Bloating in and of itself is not bad, but if you are constantly feeling like a balloon there could be an issue.  

Several foods can cause excessive bloating and may do so in various ways.   A dietitian may have you track your food so he/she can analyze your intake to see if you are consuming high-bloat items often.  

Inability to lose weight 

When an underlying food sensitivity or intolerance is present, weight loss can become very difficult due to constantly being in an inflamed state. This type of inflammation can be caused by the nature of extra stress from being overweight, stress, poor diet, or poor sleep quality.

If you have tried and tried to lose weight while working with a dietitian and a trainer, you may be dealing with underlying inflammation.  It is really important to find what is triggering the inflammation to get to the root of the problem and get you seeing results!

Other signs

Other signs that you may be dealing with inflammation include disturbed sleep, inability to focus, skin issues, poor recovery, or even poor progress in the gym!  

Tagging Your Trigger

I want to make it clear that you shouldn’t FEAR food or avoid certain foods all together.  This can lead to missing out on vital nutrients and eliminating food that actually aren’t causing problems.

But what do you do when you know you are having some type of reaction to something, but everything else is unclear?  Well, fear-not! That’s where dietitians come into play. 

Reaching out to a dietitian who can first do a comprehensive review of your health and then help you navigate your symptoms and struggles using comprehensive baseline lab testing, validated food sensitivity testing, and individualized nutrition therapy is your first step to living life in full capacity! 

Not, quite ready to jump in but want to learn more about getting to the root of your problems instead of treating the symptoms? Join our Power Portions FREE 3 day workshop from February 1st-3rd to dive deep into learning more about your body!


Usable Information 


If you have ever dealt with any of the symptoms ,  It may be worth meeting with a dietitian to see if there may be underlying food interactions that could cause the sudden change in health status.  

Some common dietary causes include:

Lactose intolerance

Lactose is sugar found in dairy products.  Some people are not able to break down lactose, causing it to be fermented by bacteria in the large intestine. This can cause gas, bloat and diarrhea. 

Fructose intolerance 

Fructose is supposed to be absorbed in the small intestine.  People that may have an intolerance are not able to absorb fructose causing it to be malabsorbed.  This can cause diarrhea or fermentation of the fructose in the colon, leading to gas and bloating. 

Sugar Alcohols

Sugar alcohols can cause gastrointestinal distress because they are poorly absorbed.  When consuming excess sugar alcohols, they can cause fluid to be drawn to the gut, causing diarrhea, discomfort and bloating.  Sugar alcohols can also be fermented in the large intestine, causing gas and bloating. 

Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten proteins are high in proline and glutamine content and these can be difficult to be broken down by enzymes in the gastrointestinal tract.  In some individuals, this can cause an immune system response.  The incomplete digestion can therefore lead to changes in the gut microbiome and cause damage to the cells of the intestine. This can lead to a whole plethora of GI symptoms, including extreme bloat. 


Dairy, specifically lactose, is a very common culprit for discomfort.  Symptoms of sensitivity to dairy include:


Abdominal bloating



Feeling very full



Muscle and joint pain

Mouth ulcers

Urinary symptoms

Loss of concentration

Some people with lactose sensitivities may be able to consume greek yogurt but may have symptoms when consuming milk. (1)


Avoiding gluten is very popular right now for people that don’t have gluten intolerances. Gluten is found in wheat products, and wheat is a main carbohydrate source that offers an abundance of vitamins and minerals.  

Hear me out, you are not offering additional benefit to your body by eliminating gluten if you do not have gluten intolerances or have been diagnosed with celiacs.  Diets that include gluten are part of a healthy diet for most individuals. 

However, people that are diagnosed with Celiacs or are having symptoms of gluten intolerance would definitely benefit from eliminating gluten. (2)  Symptoms of gluten intolerance can include:


Abdominal discomfort and pain






Food Additives 

Almost everything we buy packaged will have additives in them.  Some common additives that can cause people problems and can potentially be pinpointed on an MRT Food Sensitivity Test include but not limited to:

Food coloring

Artificial sweeteners

Potassium nitrate



Benzoic acid


A dietitian can help by evaluating your symptoms and analyzing the food you eat to see if there is correlation. (3) We can then form a strategic approach to see if a certain additive is really the root to the problem.


Caffeine is the most normalized drug used worldwide.  Most people consume caffeine to combat fatigue and drowsiness, but it is also widely consumed as a regular daily habit or to socialize.  (4)

People can have mild symptoms of caffeine, with others being more severe.








Elevated or irregular heart rate

GI Upset





Caffeine can also cause symptoms of withdrawal if abruptly stopped.  Now I’m not going to stop drinking my coffee anytime soon, but I, along with everyone else, will benefit from taking breaks from consuming caffeine daily. 

A dietitian can do several things to help get to the root of your problem.  

 There may be medication interactions that are causing you problems, or a dietitian may uncover something more serious that needs medical attention.  

Once serious problems are ruled out, allergies have been acknowledged, and we are fairly sure food is the culprit, a Mediator Release Test may be performed to unveil potential food sensitivities.  

Please keep in mind that there are different types of sensitivity tests with some being inaccurate, so be sure this is administered by a trained professional.  

These tests aren’t meant to be taken super literally, but can be used to help guide practitioners to have a starting point with eliminations.  

An elimination diet can be done to work to introduce and reintroduce foods to really see if something specific is causing problems.  

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